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Turkish Airlines launching its third South African route between Durban and Istanbul on 5 November 2015 in Durban. It’s the airline’s 46th destination in Africa / © PK

Why Turkish Airlines focuses on Africa, by its CEO, Dr Temel Kotil

Turkish Airlines’ interest in Africa shows no sign of abating. The Star Alliance carrier, which serves 46 destinations and has grown by 32 per cent in the past two years in the continent, considers Africa a priority market, its CEO, Dr Temel Kotil, said in a recent interview with the aviation online news site anna.aero. “Anybody serving Africa has a good profit – yields are two or three times higher than in Europe on every single flight. Sometimes traffic may be tiny, but the profit is high,” Dr Kotil revealed.

The immense growth of Turkish Airlines in Africa is in fact part of a bigger objective. “As an Afro-Eurasian state, Turkey’s opening up to Africa is not just the reflection of a transient political and economic expectation. It is the product of a process with strong historical and cultural aspects,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry had announced last year.

Therefore the expansion of Turkish Airlines literally builds upon Turkish government policy which views Africa as a priority interest as it estimates that the continent will become a $30 trillion economy by 2050 or larger than the current combined GDP of the US and Eurozone. Five years ago there were only 12 Turkish embassies in African countries; now there are 40.

Business is flowing as a result: African visitors to Turkey have risen more than fivefold in 10 years to about one million last year. Meanwhile, bilateral trade is approaching $25 billion, a tenfold increase since 2000.

“We have spent 10 years in Africa already. There are 1.2 billion consumers there. They might be poor states, but they are still states. Many of them receive flights from Turkish Airlines, making them accessible, enriching them further. They have a growing middle class, a few rich people – there’s gold…and diamonds…and very tasty fish in Mogadishu,” said Kotil, explaining his airline’s intensive interest in Africa.

Turkish Airlines, which flies to 279 destinations in 110 countries, launched its 46th destination in Africa on 5 November in Durban, South Africa. The service is operated from Istanbul Atatürk (IST) on an Istanbul – Johannesburg – Durban – Johannesburg – Istanbul routing four times weekly with an A330-300.

Sesan Adeola

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